Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Spread of bird flu hard to contain, say officials

Spread of bird flu hard to contain, say officials

Spread of bird flu hard to contain, say officials

130211 04
A vendor ties chickens together by their feet on the side of a street in Kandal province. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Following the death of a five-year-old girl from Takeo province last Thursday – Cambodia’s fifth death from bird flu in the new year – health representatives have noted the limits of the government’s ability to control the outbreak.

Circulation of poultry through unofficial means and owners’ unwillingness to risk losing their poultry by reporting sick birds were two impediments to stopping the spread of the disease, said Sonny Krishnan, communications officer for WHO Cambodia, and Dr Philippe Buchy, head of the virology unit at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge.

Although both Cambodia and Vietnam have tightened the monitoring of poultry due to Cambodia’s recent H5N1 cases, authorities have little power to prevent the movement of free-range ducks from village to village, or even between the two countries, the health representatives said.  

“The border is so long,” said Buchy. “Especially if the border is in the middle of rice fields, birds can easily cross.”

Compounding authorities’ inability to inspect all poultry in transit – including those carried casually on motorcycles – was the fact that “there’s no incentive to report poultry deaths”, Krishnan said.

Reports of sick poultry ought to prompt people to take precautions, he said, but instead, poultry owners often begin taking sick and dead birds seriously only after humans start dying from the virus.

Unlike their counterparts in Takeo’s neighbouring Snao commune, the home of one of January’s victims, officials in Prey Lvea, where the latest victim died,  would not require the killing and burning of poultry until they had received further orders from Phnom Penh, commune chief Yon Korn said.

But Krishnan said that due to lack of compensation policy, ordering the slaughter of poultry was a local-level decision.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at [email protected]

Mom Kunthear at [email protected]


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which